26 October 2016Last updated

Features | People

Ask the expert: my brother and I have patchy skin

The most probable clinical diagnosis of your skin complaint could be pityriasis versicolor

Dr Ikramullah Al Nasir
4 Oct 2016 | 12:38 pm

I’m a 29-year-old female suffering from yellowish white patches of different sizes on my chest, upper back and arms since the past three months. Similar skin rashes had also appeared a few times during the past few years. However, they used to affect smaller areas of my skin and would disappear gradually. Surprisingly, now my younger brother has also started developing similar skin lesions.

The most probable clinical diagnosis of your skin complaint could be pityriasis versicolor, also called tinea versicolor. This is a fungal infection of the skin. Heat, excessive sun exposure and profuse sweating usually precipitate its activity. In certain cases, prolonged use of systemic antibiotics or partial suppression of immunity due to various causes can also increase its ability to spread extensively.

The name of the condition – tinea versicolor – is suggestive of its clinical expression of changing the colour of skin 
on the affected areas. This occurs due to the production of an acid by the fungus, which suppresses as well as inhibits the skin colour (melanin) production.

This results in skin patches of altered colours. These range from pinkish patches in the beginning, which can become brownish in a few weeks and later can also turn into whitish hypopigmented patches.

Potentially, it can be contagious through direct body contact or by sharing bath towels or clothes.

I recommend that you see a specialist dermatologist to confirm your condition. You most likely will require a course of oral antifungals together with topical antifungal creams and sprays to effectively treat your condition.

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Dr Ikramullah Al Nasir

Dr Ikramullah Al Nasir

is a specialist dermatologist and founder and president of Dermacare Skin Health Services.